Lies, damn lies, misrepresentation, misinterpretation and STATISTICS

(85 Posts)

A thread for anyone who is infuriated by and/or enjoys reading about this type of stuff. I love it, but annoyingly at the moment I can't think of any examples, other than dull work-related ones. For example, if you're looking at something as a proportion of the whole, then you can't consider one thing in isolation. For example, as Trills mentioned on another thread, let's assume heart disease is the biggest killer of adults (which I believe it is). Let's assume 10% of deaths to adults in 1950 were of heart disease, compared to 42% now. Shocking rise? Probably not.

Plus I will attempt to explain the Monty Hall (think that's the name) problem to anyone who is interested and who doesn't already know it.

Trills Mon 08-Jul-13 20:02:19

You mentioned me in the OP and didn't PM me to tell me this was here!

I had to find out about it on a lottery thread!

Trills Mon 08-Jul-13 20:04:52

87% of women who were given this product for free said it was "quite nice"

TheDoctrineOfAllan Mon 08-Jul-13 20:36:28

Was it ham, Trills?

rubyanddiamond Mon 08-Jul-13 21:23:38

David Spiegelhalter did an episode of The Life Scientific recently - really interesting if you like this kind of thing:

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b02x7h0z

Debsndan Mon 08-Jul-13 23:31:40

What a great thread. My only contribution is when I was having ivf, I got very interested in the individual success rates of each clinic, including one that actually had a detrimental effect on its patients' fertility. I posted about it on a fertility forum and a woman popped up to say I'd got it all wrong and we all had the same chance of getting pregnant as "it either works or it doesn't, so that's 50/50."
I retreated as my brain had started to hurt a lot and clearly there was no point trying to explain...

TheDoctrineOfAllan Tue 09-Jul-13 10:26:09

It should be mandatory for any comment on risk to be balanced by any comments on counter risks.

For example: certain types of SSRIs may increase the risk of foetal heart defects from 2 in 1000 to 4 in 1000 (not exact numbers). However, women of childbearing age who stop taking SSRIs for mild to moderate depression without having alternative treatment arranged suffer an x% increased risk of self harm, worsening depression or whatever.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Tue 09-Jul-13 10:27:55

That was an illustrative post but my point was that changing one risk often means changing another, but only one change gets reported.

Azultrailer Mon 26-Aug-13 01:17:19

I love this thread.

meditrina Tue 27-May-14 09:17:34

Old thread, but I thought that anyone who spots it might also like this BBC story on spurious correlations

BoomBoomsCousin Mon 07-Jul-14 02:48:37

Another good BBC article this time on statistics and risk in medicine.

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